Musk sues OpenAI and Altman for breach of contract

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Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its chief executive Sam Altman, alleging the ChatGPT-maker’s multibillion-dollar alliance with Microsoft has compromised the start-up’s original mission of building artificial intelligence systems for the benefit of humanity.

“OpenAI, Inc. has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft,” wrote Musk’s lawyers in a filing issued to a San Francisco court on Thursday.

“Under its new board, it is not just developing but is refining an AGI to maximise profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity.”

OpenAI declined to comment. Musk was not immediately contactable for comment.

The tech billionaire was one of OpenAI’s co-founders in 2015, when it started as a not-for-profit organisation committed to safely building “artificial general intelligence” — an AI that is capable of the same level of intelligence as humans, or an even higher level. 

However, Musk left OpenAI’s board three years later, shortly before the start-up established a for-profit arm, through which Microsoft has invested about $13bn. The alliance is being reviewed by competition watchdogs in the US, EU and UK.

Microsoft’s president Brad Smith said this week that the companies were “very important partners” but that “Microsoft does not control OpenAI”.

OpenAI has become a leader in generative AI — software that can produce text, images and code in seconds — which analysts believe will shake up industries across the world.

Other Big Tech rivals, such as Google and Amazon, are also investing heavily in building the technology.

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